Organizations of all types, from schools and small businesses to government agencies and large corporate enterprises, are feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if your company had already embraced the power of video collaboration, you may not have used it in quite the extent to which you are now.
Working remotely brings about a whole new set of challenges; most of which revolve around your state of mind and the technology you have access to. Trends come and go just as technologies evolve, how you adapt to your environment, however, is something that is completely within your own hands. Here are three helpful tips to maximize your work-from-home performance.
1. Go to your virtual office every single day. It’s important you maintain your schedule. Like aforementioned, this is all about your state of mind. Wake up, have your cup of coffee and get your family ready. Do all the things you would normally do and continue your routine. Of course, we would all love to roll out of bed and throw some sweatpants and a t-shirt on but stick with business-casual or a ‘jeans-Friday’ mentality. Keep your lounging at the house/family time separate from work as best you can. Then go to your new ‘at-home office’, wherever it may be.
2. Be aware and present. Meeting with people down the hall or in a conference room is much different from meeting with people in a virtual environment. Not only must you think about how you interact with your colleagues, but how others are interacting with you. Remember things like
- Limit distractions. Working from home, let along during a ‘stay-at-home’ order, can bring all sorts of distractions. Whether it's dogs barking or kids playing, these interruptions can make a significant impact on the amount of work you’re able to get done. So, as you go into meetings, take a second to close your door (if you have one) and mute your microphone. Any way that you can minimize disruptions is a plus.
- Make your “presence” known. No, we don’t mean to become the center of attention. What we mean here is to use the presence engine within the applications you use to collaborate with colleagues. For instance, Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex Teams allow you to set yourself to “available,” “away,” “busy,” “do-not-disturb,” etc. This is like walking down the hall and seeing the person you need to speak with is already in a meeting room, on the phone, or otherwise engaged. Similarly, if you are unavailable or in ‘crunch time’ trying to complete a task, set yourself as “busy.”
- Mute your microphone and/or turn off your video when needed. With stay-at-home orders, we are faced with an unrelenting storm of phones ringing, kids running around the house, someone or something always needing your attention. We are also faced with something not many people have experienced: network congestion. Poor video quality, and dropped calls are much more prevalent and while we can’t get rid of these issues, there are things you can do to improve the overall experience for everyone involved. Turn off your video when it is not needed – like when you step away, move to another room, or just need to decrease the bandwidth you are using. Don’t forget to let your attendees know! It’s not unheard of for people to think you dropped off the call if your video turns off.
3. Utilize the tools at your disposal. Take the time to learn your tools and understanding how they best benefit your world. Instant messaging, video conferencing, task management applications, file sharing – there truly are tools for everything you can think of. That’s only half the bottle though; having access to these tools doesn't make you productive. It’s imperative that you work with the tools that fit your needs and make you the most efficient worker you can be. When all is said and done, the most important thing to remember is to remain organized, communicate, and use the tools that help you do the things you do better.
We know working remotely means something totally different to each one of us, and none of what we mentioned can be done 100% of the time. If you take the time and begin making some slight adjustments, you’ll soon develop new habits and create your “new normal”.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” – James Clear